As FBI Was Rolling Up Ibragim Todashev and Friends in Orlando, Omar Mateen Claimed a Tie

Spencer Ackerman has new details on what it was that got the Orlando killer, Omar Mateen, on the FBI radar in 2013: He claimed to have a tie to the Tsarnaev brothers.

Omar Mateen, whose rampage early Sunday at the LGBT nightclub Pulse left 50 dead, including himself, and 53 wounded, told co-workers at the private-security firm employing him that he knew Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev, according to a source close to the investigation who requested anonymity.

The FBI interviewed Mateen on two occasions in 2013 related to his purported connection to the Tsarnaev brothers, the first known time Mateen drew the attention of federal law enforcement. Ultimately, bureau investigators determined that Mateen had invented the connection and did not pose a security threat.

Described as a tie to the brothers behind the Marathon killing, the claim is just wacky. But perhaps not as much when you consider the close FBI focus on Orlando’s Muslim community. The FBI killed Todashev in May of 2013, and started rounding up and deporting his friends shortly thereafter.

That’s not to say Mateen did have a tie. It’s just to say that, even though the Tsarnaevs struck far away in Boston, there was a local focus in Florida at the time Mateen was making this claim.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

7 replies
  1. Les says:

    It also looks like he also scouted Disney World theme park. The media neglected to mention that Disney World holds its annual gay days in early June.

  2. RUKidding says:

    Thanks. I wondered about this, too, as I knew there was a tie to Tsarnaev brothers and the Muslim community in Orlando. Looks like Mateen may be very tangentially related to all of that, but still a sort of tie.
    **
    Of course, even if someone has been under the “eye” of the FBI, they can still go just about anywhere and buy tons of assault weapons bc Freedumb ‘n stuff.

  3. DMC says:

    And didn’t the FBI wonder at all about the shooter’s father, who posted Youtube videos praising the Taliban(in Dari) and promoting Pashtun nationalism and claiming to be the legitimate President of Afghanistan? Those seem like the sort of things that might be red flags but this is the FBI we’re talking about so competence is not necessarily to be expected,

  4. wayoutwest says:

    I could have done without someone dragging out the corpse of that admitted triple murderer and cage-fighting moron Todashev with a strange inference that the FBI somehow ‘rolled up’ him or his friends which has nothing to do with these latest killings.

    I’m no fan of the FBI but the agent Todashev attacked and bludgeoned was defending himself from a madman and the madman’s BFF’s were deported for overstaying their visas and their association with this murderer didn’t help their pleas for extensions.

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